In the wake of the political unrest in Darjeeling over the Gorkhaland issue, the West Bengal government is trying to promote alternative tourist places in the State.

“Darjeeling is a creation of over two centuries, but definitely we are trying to build up other places,” Manabendra Mukherjee, Minister for Tourism, said here on Monday.

“While there may be some political disturbances there, the number of tourists to West Bengal is on the rise.” He claimed that the growth rate of tourist arrivals was higher than the national average.

Among the destinations gaining in popularity were the Dooars, the sea-beaches and places of historical importance such as Malda and Murshidabad, he said.

Speaking at a curtain raiser for the seventh edition of the five-day West Bengal Tourism and Food Festival that is scheduled to begin on January 6, Mr. Mukherjee said a cultural festival on the grounds of the Hazaar Dwari Palace (palace with a thousand doors) at Murshidabad was on the cards. “It will be a festival to promote the exquisite handicrafts, authentic cuisine and the culture of the Nawabs of Murshidabad. Music will be an integral part of the festival.”

The three-storey Hazaar Dwari palace was built in 1837 for Nawab Najim Humaun Jah. Of its thousand doors, only 900 are real.

The Tourism Department is also organising a festival to promote the distinctive music of the ‘Bishnupur Gharana’ against the backdrop of the terracotta temples of Bishnupur.

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